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Larch-clad volume extends barn home into Bristol’s green belt

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Mitchell Eley Gould Architects

Agricultural-style addition in timber by Bath practice Mitchell Eley Gould captures the view with a kitchen and living area

Tell us about the project

The extension is roofed and clad in a single material, larch. The house is in the green belt in the Dundry area near Bristol and the planners wanted tiles and timber. We considered Corten, then designed it in pantiles before a cost review took us back to timber, which works as an agricultural aesthetic. Our clients, a young family, wanted a new living area that welcomed visitors and friends and connected effortlessly to their garden. We turned the existing long low house-in-a-barn into the bedroom wing with a new living-room extension.

How did you do it?

A new kitchen and living area project out into the garden on the north-east corner of the site, capturing the extraordinary views and allowing the existing building to be reorganised internally to provide an additional bedroom and a snug. A new entrance beneath a flat roof locks together the existing barn and the new living area, combining two pitched roofs that run at 90 degrees to each other, reinforcing typical characteristics of local agricultural buildings. 

The extension to Old Barn, near Bristol, is entirely clad in larch, seen here projecting over the new entrance.
The extension to Old Barn, near Bristol, is entirely clad in larch, seen here projecting over the new entrance. Credit: Cate Donnegoold

How important was the planning process?

The planning stages, which included a pre-app, formed a critical part of the design process and allowed us to push the parameters while respecting the site’s rural character. The clients came to us partly on the recommendation of planning consultant Knight Frank as they were trying to work out whether expanding in the green belt might be possible. The challenges for planning included the very idea of an extension in this green belt and, in particular, the mass, scale and material choice.  

How did you use the larch cladding?

Vertical larch cladding wraps around the walls and roof of the new living room extension. The flat-roofed link between old and new is finished in larger larch boards run horizontally.  

How have the interiors been designed?

In the extension, the linear is deliberately dark with a low ceiling and concrete floor, then opens up into a lofty living area which connects to the outside and beyond to the surrounding landscape and views of the city. There is a barn aesthetic but also a little mystery.

The living room opened up to the garden. Credit: Cate Donnegoold
The top-lit dark-painted corridor gives a sense of compression before the big gesture of the living room. Credit: Cate Donnegoold

What is the most sustainable aspect of this project?

The fundamental sustainability move is the retrofit and reuse of the existing barn.  Timber cladding helps with the sustainability story. And PVs on the existing barn roof provide power to the property.

What is your favourite part of the project?

The threshold and entrance into the building. The timber volume of the extension is extruded as a place for shelter and as a functional area for arriving with muddy boots.  A sequence of folded timber planes – roof, gable end, wall and soffit meet, welcoming you in. Considerable time was spent achieving this effortless-looking detail.

What was the biggest challenge?

Delivering the dream home within a relatively modest budget.  And prioritising the elements that wouldn’t be compromised in order to achieve the fundamental client goals. The contract for the build was directly between our client and the contractor but we were on hand for site visits if there were particular concerns.

What would you do again?

We would certainly want to engage with the local authority at an early stage using a pre-app process as this provides for early valuable input. 

Top image: The extension creates a little shelter and a more intimate connection with the garden. Credit: Cate Donnegoold

See more interesting house extensions​


  • The living room takes full advantage of the volume of its pitched roof. And of the sweeping views.
    The living room takes full advantage of the volume of its pitched roof. And of the sweeping views. Credit: Cate Donnegoold
  • Roof detail.
    Roof detail. Credit: Cate Donnegoold


Total contract cost Undisclosed 
Gross internal area 43m2 
Architect: Mitchell Eley Gould

Client  Cate and Gareth Donnegoold
Contractor RO Dando and Sons
Structural engineer – Mann Williams
Quantity surveyor CMS
Planning consultant Knight Frank
Ecology Abricon 



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